HAI Announces Recipient of Honorary Lifetime Member Award

Group honors Dennis Nichols, U.S. Naval Academy graduate and first American president of Turbomeca.


ALEXANDRIA, VA — Dennis Nichols will receive HAI’s Honorary Lifetime Member Award on Feb. 23, 2009, at Heli-Expo 2009 in Anaheim, CA, during HAI’s 48th annual "Salute to Excellence" awards ceremony and banquet.

Nichols graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1961, receiving his diploma from President John F. Kennedy. Flying A-4 Skyhawks from carriers, he accumulated more than 500 landings on his first tour, and was the first pilot to obtain 100 arrested landings on the USS America. He also served as a Landing Signal Officer, certified to wave all aircraft types in the carrier group.

In 1967 he left the Navy, becoming one of the founders and President of ARNAV Systems – designers and manufacturers of area navigation equipment. He promoted Loran Receivers to Gulf of Mexico operators, and pioneered the use of Terminal Control Area identification technology in the software used to prevent pilots penetrating prohibited and restricted airspace.

He was the first American President to run the U.S. subsidiary of French helicopter engine manufacturer, Turbomeca. In that capacity he was responsible for many of their major innovations and expansion within the United States, to include FAA certification for production.

Nichols twice served as engine representative to the HAI Board, and has served as president of Helicopter Foundation International (HFI). He established a blue ribbon panel of experts to address noise issues, which resulted in the development of a DVD aimed at international, commercial, and military operators considered to be the best noise abatement training aid available.

Nichols’ legacy is education; from his financial support program enabling Turbomeca employees to send their children to college, to endorsing HFI’s efforts to attract young people to the helicopter industry by raising funds for yearly aviation scholarships. With his church he also teaches English and leadership at Hebei Normal University of Science and Technology in China.

For more information visit www.heliexpo.com.

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